Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

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JesterJosev
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:46 am

Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by JesterJosev » Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:10 am

This was it my first overnight, solo, hike into the wilderness. The location that I chose was at Munroe Lake, in Pinecone Burke Mountain Park, BC, Canada.
Living just off the mountains in British Columbia, I’m blessed with the convenience of suburban luxury and deep wilderness. In just over a twenty minute drive from my house is the main trail heads of Burke Mountain. Pinecone Burke Mountain Park was named for Edmund Burke (conservative philosopher)(I think I got this off wikipedia), it’s about 38 thousand hectares in size according to the BC parks website, and it features amazing walk in wilderness camping, with lakes to fish in, abandoned ski resorts to explore, evidence of age old mining/logging operations, and tons of wildlife including bears.
Bears are something that I’m used to living around. As suburbia encroaches upon their habitat we find them raiding our dumpsters, and exploring. Although I have seen many of them, I have never had a problem with them. This year I was a little concerned as it was getting close to their hibernation period, and the wild blueberries were ripe in amazing fashion at Lake Munroe where I wanted to camp. I decided that I would get things sorted out for myself. Typically when I go camping I bring a small knife with me for basic tasks. I have friends that haul 6 inch tactical knives (or something like that) into the woods with them to aid them in their tasks and it doesn’t hurt to have some added confidence around large animals. I don’t subscribe to this concept. The way I figure if a Grizzly Bear is determined to have you for dinner, your 6 inch knife is about as useful as nail clippers. A gun might be useful, but from what I gather you pretty much have to catch him between the eyes or else you have a super determined bear on your hands (various internet sources). With spray on the other hand its constant pain over time and from what I see you don’t have to be particularly accurate as long as you hit the bear its senses will be overcome. I decided to pick up a bear spray canister from MEC (the Canadian equivalent of REI). I fixed it to my bag hip strap and started packing for my camping trip the next afternoon.
I packed my one man hubba tent, my golite sleeping quilt, and my thermarest sleeping pad, some fleece clothing for the evening, a head lamp, two half quart nalgen bottles, my steripen, my Smokeeater908 miniheat and a pack of mountain house chili mac and cheese, and a few other items and got ready to head out. Munroe Lake is about 45 minutes drive for my house, and by the time I got there it was about 3pm. I knew that I didn’t have much time as the sun sets at 7pm (about), and even though I was beside a lake it starts to get dark at around 6pm up in the trees. I figured that if I took a leisurely 3 hours to get up to the lake I would have at least an hour to get my tent up, my gear unpacked, and my site prepped for the evening.
The route I took up Burke Mountain (Dollar Mountain, as Burke Mountain is further back into the range but it’s commonly known as Burke.) (this is from someone I was talking to), to Munroe Lake is hidden, and steep. From the parking area I went up a dry rocky area that look like it used to be a stream. After about half a mile I had to take a right at the junction and this is where the trail started to get very wild. The over grown ferns were reminiscent of a scene from Gorillas in the Mist (or what I imagine anyway), and the out of season huckle berry bushes scattered along the trail were a reminder that this was going to be one of the last backing trips of the season. The climbing was tough with a few sections of the switch backs blocked with trees that had fallen, and the dry trail eroding. At this point (rather at some point) I realized one of my first mistakes although other areas had many water options the area that I was in only had about three water sources and I wasn’t near any of them for the most part on the way up (with my quart of water). I crested the 3000ft aprox climb to the top of Dollar mountain, and was intregued as I found a sign saying “new trail route to Munroe Lake”. I knew I only had about another mile and a half to go until I was at the lake.
The sun was starting to deteriorate and with it my optimism as the climb had taken its toll on my energy. After a little while I rounded the last turn and was greeted with a fantastic sight. The lake area was golden with the setting sun, my cheers and hoots echoed between the mountains that cradled the lake, and beneath my feet were creeping blue berry bushes that quickly rewarded me for the climb I had just completed. I knew now that it was minutes before I would find my camp site for the night. The previous year when I came up last the water level was average, but with the amazing amount of sun we have had this summer the lake was almost bone dry. I skirted around the Eastern edge of the lake in hopes that I would find a little bit more water to drink, and maybe fish in. As I circled the lake I kept a conscious eye on the thought provoking bear and coyote tracks pressed into the mud. I found a little running water that didn’t look that great to drink, and pressed on in hope that I would find a larger body of water. I found the remnants of the lake, it was pitiful, off color, and surrounded by mud. I decided to head back to the running water on the East side of the lake, as it was more accessible to gather drinking water, and further away from the blue berry bushes of which I figured wild life might be interested in. It was starting to get darker now, and I knew that I had to get my small one man tent up and camp established before it was too dark to work effectively. I found a place pressed a bit further up from the dry lake, set up my tent, let my quilt and pad loft up. Meanwhile I took my parachute cord further away from my sleeping area to set up a bear food hang, and got some water from the nearby stream as it was almost dark.

Part 2 (OMG Bears, Fear) coming tomorrow. (a few aproximations/lies, sorry)
Last edited by JesterJosev on Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:20 am, edited 3 times in total.

JesterJosev
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:46 am

Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by JesterJosev » Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:47 pm

Part 2
I decided (perhaps) that it would be a good time to put my head lamp on, and watch the sun disappear over the Western ridge, while I set up dinner. I took out my camera and tripod and started to make a review of the miniheat stove in order to distract myself from the thought that I was 12 miles (this sounds like a guess in hindsight, but deffinitly far out) away from anyone, at the top of a remote mountain, in the pitch dark. My imagination started to get away from me as I thought of the bear tracks in the mud I had seen earlier. I decided that it would be a good time to retire to the seemingly insignificant security of my small one man tent. Sleeping wasn’t an option for a while. The odd light of my headlamp, and alcohol stove must have attracted the attention of the surrounding wild life and everything was going absolutely ape. The owls were interesting, I have their syntax pretty much memorized as it seems to go on for an eternity “hoo hoo, hoo hoo hoo, troloolooloo”, and repeat. When their curiosity abated I tried to turn off my headlamp, at which point a small animal (or something) bumped into the side of my tent which sent my heart rate soaring. My bear spray in hand I peeked out of the tent and saw and heard nothing.
Before I set off my friend told me that he had seen bears up there the last two times he had gone up there and was sure that I would see one (as far as I can recollect). I wish he hadn’t have said that, as for quite a while that night was lied there quietly listening for the bears that would advent my soon to be demise. I didn’t hear any bears, but I’m sure they heard me. Every so often if I got particularly freaked out I would shout out a loud growl “YAHH!”, in the hopes that anything in the local area would think twice about coming to check out my seemingly defenseless situation. At this point (perhaps in hind sight) the thought of my friend’s 6 inch tactical blades didn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore. At that point I would have liked to have a machine gun. Blast Canada’s restrictive gun legislation. To distract myself from my situation I poured over the topographical map that I had of the local area. I know a lot about Burke Mountain’s geography now. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get lost up there with the education I gained that evening (I'm not sure how much I remember). After a while I got bored (or tired) of being worried, turned off my lamp and tried to get some sleep. I woke up at around 6am not really happy that the sun hadn’t risen yet. Next time I woke up it was around 7am and I could see the manifested effects of my fear wrought evening. The even temperature maybe hit 32 degrees, but in my quilt, with the thermarest, and the fleece in my small tent, the inner wall of my tent fly was covered in condensation. I learnt quickly that if you have to leave early in the morning, camping on the West side of the lake is optimal as the sun will hit the camp site earlier giving more time to dry out gear from the previous night. I crawled out of my tent with my fleece still on and started to boil some water, while watching the ravens on the other side of the lake area have a squabble. The fog clung to the lake and refused to budge until the sun light bullied its way through. I watched the sun crawl from the East side of the lake across the lake and start to warm up the ground in the West (I think anyways, but this sounds right), while I collected wild blueberries for breakfast. I had brought a few packs of quaker instant porridge (which I don’t really enjoy, but it keeps me full for quite a while), and added blueberries fresh off the bush, that was the best porridge I’ve ever had (with the blue berries), mind you I might have been more happy with the berries by themselves. With a cup of morning hot chocolate I got to work packing up my tent
The fly was a soggy mess, so I hung it over some bushes in the hopes that the morning rays would evaporate some of the condensation before I packed up all my gear. As I looked over my camp site I found a silver spoon, fishing lure that I figure I had left there from last year. As I hiked back over to the trail head down the mountain I got a little confused just as the person whom introduced it to me the previous year did and mistook a false creek for the trail. After getting my bearings I set out back down the mountain.
After a few minutes I felt a lump in my throat, did I leave my knife back at camp? I ran back and realized (or found) that it was in my pack. At this point (or earlier) I realized that I was going to be late for my previously planned pick up at the bottom of the mountain. I started moving fast, and my trail glove shoes were taking a pounding. I didn’t sleep once. Although they are trail running shoes and I could feel the rocks, the rubber dulls the sharp points and makes me more connected with the dirt and moss (close anyway lol). I hardly slipped at all compared to the last year when I hiked up the mountain in my sneakers. Almost running now, I charged down the mountain, roaring down the switch backs, back across the ferns, and through the rocks of the old creek bed until I saw the trail, head that I had started from the previous morning. I loaded my gear in to the car, minus a few (in hindsight I think it was only one) hiking pole tip protectors.
Upon reflection I realized a few things. Camping with others is fun, but when you camp on your own your testing your own methods, and at this point you start to become involved with environment (on your own). At this point you start to rely upon your own skills and gear. You start to listen carefully and weight your judgments regarding what to do (hopefully). This is where backpacking becomes personal. I also learnt to be careful with my gear, and have a spot for everything that I brought out with me (perhaps). We bring specific items because they have a purpose and they cannot for fill the purpose if they are not handy. For instance my bear spray. I hear some people keep it in their pack, but I doubt if it really came down to the wire that if a bear was charging I doubt she would wait for you to dig through your pack to pull out your spray (I learnt something like this from the guy at MEC). On the west coast I think I’m going to bring Sham Wow cloths with me to wipe the condensation off my fly so that I can pack it up and not have to worry about mold damage. This way I can hang the sham wow on my backpack and let it try during the day. Regarding bears apparently I did the right thing by not camping near the berry bushes, I was loud, and made sure I had spray on me at most times. It turns out most of the bears were at the bottom of the mountain raiding the McDonalds dumpster (My co-worker may have suggested this is what they were doing anyway). Most of my fears regarding bears were unfounded; there has been 12 fatal bear attacks in BC Canada in all of recorded history according to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fa ... th_America) EDIT. A friend said to me, “If bears have only killed 12 of us in BC in recorded history, what does that say about humans? Think of all the bears we have killed.”
Did I have a scary hard trip? Yes. What it a learning experience? Yes. Will I take this experience and stop solo camping? No, in fact I plan to go again next Monday. (a few aproximations/lies , sorry)
Last edited by JesterJosev on Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:21 am, edited 3 times in total.

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zelph
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Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by zelph » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:33 pm

I thought the Midwest of the U.S.A. was the only place where lakes are drying up :o

First solo and you have to worry about bears.....bummer!

I suspect you had a close encounter with Mr. Bear :P I can't wait for the "rest of the story" :D

Oops.....I missed the 2nd part :oops: :oops: :oops: I'll blame it on working too hard :lol:

Now I have to go back and read the rest of the story :oops:
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zelph
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Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by zelph » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:45 pm

whoooo, I read it!

It's very well written and held my attention. I was expecting you to be eaten by a bear :lol:

I'll be back ;)
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steamjam
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Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by steamjam » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:43 pm

The first time I went solo, I carried a knife I made out of an old railroad spike, a Ruger 1911, and a zippo lighter. I did it just to see if I could. WOW was that a learning experience! I learnt to forget the ruger because..... well shooting at a bear is ALOT more likely to piss it off therefore increasing the chances that the bear will use your brains as a chaser when it scoffs your intestines down its gob.

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zelph
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Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by zelph » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:52 pm

I would'nt go with nothing less that a Ruger44 magnum. Leave the spray at home :mrgreen: I'll go down shootin :lol:
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steamjam
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Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by steamjam » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:59 pm

zelph wrote:I would'nt go with nothing less that a Ruger44 magnum. Leave the spray at home :mrgreen: I'll go down shootin :lol:
Yeah, I haven't even looked at my 1911 in years.

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zelph
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Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by zelph » Sat Oct 13, 2012 12:05 am

Jester says 12 recorded fatalities....that's 12 too many ;)
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JesterJosev
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Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by JesterJosev » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:06 am

Its interesting to think about wildlife being aggressive. I have been bitten by raccoons (only one I can think of), pecked at by birds, swarmed by insects, I live very close to a city park and this summer bears will use my back yard (or maybe the front yard) as a route to suburban garbage cans, but I have never had a problem with bears. I remember hearing (rather I assume/heard) that bears will attack for two reasons territory and food.
With respect to territory, everyone knows that if you get close to cubs when the sow is around she will make extra real sure that your intentions are to get as far away from the cubs as possible, and honestly I get it. I mean if you saw a bear around your children, wouldn’t you want to make extra sure that the bear wanted nothing to do with them? That’s just mom being a good mom, and you can’t blame her for that.
I know that if you challenge a bear regarding territory it’s a bad idea too. I wouldn’t want to camp in the middle of a bears secret blueberry stash. You and I have the option of going to McDonalds if the going gets rough in the kitchen. The bear only has those berries, he doesn’t have a fall back plan aside from what he lucks into finding. If the options are starving or protect his food source, of course he’s going to have to protect himself.
Starting a fight with a bear is a bad idea too I think. If you’re in a bears territory your pretty much standing in the middle of his house as far as he is concerned. Now I know for humans its often considered respectful to hold eye contact while talking to each other because it shows your paying attention to the person you’re talking to. The bear doesn’t know this, he doesn’t want to talk to you. He wants you to get out of the middle of his living room, as fast as your bipedal legs can take you. Do you still want to talk? The bear will give you something to talk about real fast.
It therefore makes sense that we are told to stand down when we are put in a territory confrontation with a bear. You’re the turd on his recently deep cleaned carpet. He just wants you to leave quietly.
As far as predation goes, I know that certain bears are more susceptible to preying on humans (or so I've deduced/heard from others). I gather that it’s the smaller ones like the black bears that are more often the ones that we really have to worry about (or so I've deduced/heard from others). Black bears are sort of like the runts of the bear world; they are small and therefore have to make do with what they can catch( or so I've deduced/heard from others). If the going gets tough and they manage to catch you, they are forced to make do (or so I've deduced/heard from others).
This is when we are supposed to make him question if the meal is worth the fire that you’re bringing (or so I've deduced/heard from others). We want to predatory bear to think “This one is a scrapper, and my eyes and sensitive nose is on fire with spray. I’m not hungry anymore, I’m in pain and this isn’t worth it(or so I've deduced/heard from others). I’m gonna go find some water to dunk my head in now.”
This is just a few thoughts I had (or so I've deduced/heard from others), but it sure is fun to imagine what the bear is thinking!

Edit: Here is an article entitled "How to Survive a Bear Attack". Maybe its a good idea for all backpackers to have a read?

gah they don't like external link ether sorry delete(a few aproximations/lies, sorry)
Last edited by JesterJosev on Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:23 am, edited 3 times in total.

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zelph
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Re: Jester tries solo camping for the first time.

Post by zelph » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:12 am

All good advice......thank you.
You’re the turd on his recently deep cleaned carpet. He just wants you to leave quietly.
:lol: and without his blueberries. :mrgreen:
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